Rainbow Board sets budget at $177 million

The Recorder

SUDBURY—The Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) approved a budget of $177 million for the 2012-2013 school year at a board meeting held on Tuesday.

Like most school boards in Ontario, RDSB continues to experience declining enrolment, resulting in less revenue for programs and services. Total provincial grants have decreased by $1.4 million or .9 percent overall.

“Last year, we reduced our ongoing expenditures by $2.2 million, which helped us achieve a balanced budget once again this year,” said RDSB chair Doreen Dewar. “We have also received an additional $1 million for school operations and $1 million for declining enrolment. As a result, we were able to align our expenditures to meet our revenue.”

Ms. Dewar explained, “we have achieved a balanced budget while continuing to invest in programs for students, such as full day, every day Junior Kindergarten. We also remain committed to the revitalization of Rainbow Schools, providing the best programs possible in quality school facilities.”

In 2012-2013, the province allocated an additional $3.9 million for the Early Learning Program, which will be fully implemented by 2014-2015. The province has also increased funding for school renewal to $3.3 million, and has provided an additional investment of $1.8 million for 2012-2013.

Provincial support declined in a number of areas, including school board administration, classroom computers, staff development, and program coordinators/consultants. The province has also reduced funding for the arts, music and physical education, an RDSB release notes.

The total staffing complement for 2012-2013 will be a full-time equivalent of 1,558 employees, a reduction of nine positions. Enrolment is projected to total 13,981 students.

Seventy-six percent of the budget, or $132.3 million, has been allocated to salaries and benefits. Seven percent of the budget will go towards supplies and services, nine percent to fees and contracts, and four percent to capital and replacement projects in the 2012-2013 school year.

The budget includes one-time investments in a number of areas, such as an additional $205,000 for learning materials for students and $65,000 for LCD computer monitors, which are more cost-effective to operate.

There are also ongoing investments, such as the establishment of an equipment replacement fund to promote health and safety and the creation of a night school Co-operative Education Program on Manitoulin Island to enable students to earn credits while they work.

The release notes the budget reflects significant savings in the cost of utilities. Capital projects (including energy retrofits, the renewal of schools, and the construction of two new green schools) coupled with declining enrolment have resulted in a decrease in electricity, gas and water consumption.

The RDSB operates 35 elementary schools and nine secondary schools in Sudbury, Espanola, Manitoulin and Shining Tree.